Ascending Colon Function and problems

The first part of large bowel is the right colon or otherwise known as the ascending colon. The large colon is made up of three segments (ascending, descending and sigmoid colon) based on its blood supply and function. Food comes from the small bowel and goes directly into the right colon. Two ascending colon functions include absorption of potassium and vitamin K. In the ascending bowel, the liquid stool is acted upon by bacteria. The partially liquefied stool is then passed over to the transverse colon for more processing by bacteria, so that it can become semi solid fecal material. Like the rest of the digestive system, people can develop a variety of ascending colon problems.
In general, the majority of disorders that affect the right colon occur in elderly people but in rare cases, young people may also acquire certain disorders. The most common disorder of the right colon are polyps. Polyps are small balloon like growths which may vary in size from 5 mm to 2 cms; these polyps can sometimes turn into cancer when they become large. The majority of people do not have symptoms from polyps but few individuals may notice blood in the stools. Polyps are best diagnosed with either a barium enema or a colonoscopy (flexible camera-like device placed through the rectum). The colonoscope can also remove the polyp. The other ascending colon problems include ulcerative colitis and crohn disease. Both these disorders occur in the 2-4 decade of life and typically present with abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, anemia, weight loss, loss of appetite, sores on skin and joint pain.
Diverticulitis predominantly occurs on the left colon, but in some young individuals it can also occur on the right  colon. The disease can present with right sided abdominal pain, bleeding, fever and vomiting. The condition is readily diagnosed by CT scan. Irritable bowel syndrome is another disorder where ascending colon function is altered. This disorder may present with alternating diarrhea or constipation and can be difficult to diagnose. Often the symptoms may be vague. The disorder can be controlled by changes in diet and reduction in stress. Colon cancer can also affect the right colon. The cancer usually occurs in the 5/6 decade of life and individuals may present with altered bowel habits, anemia, weight loss and/or abdominal pain. The diagnosis can be made by a barium enema or a colonoscopy. To screen for colon cancers, many physicians routinely check for blood in the stools.
Most of the above medical disorders can be treated with medicine but sometimes surgery is required. During cancer surgery, the entire ascending colon can be removed and bowel continuity can be restored without any problems later in life.

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    May 2015
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